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Dozens killed after explosion hits president's re-election rally in north Afghanistan

Dozens killed after explosion hits president's re-election rally in north Afghanistan
At least 26 people have been killed and 42 more were wounded after an IED attached to a security vehicle exploded near a campaign rally attended by Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, potentially signaling an attempt on his life.

The bombing occurred on Tuesday afternoon in Afghanistan’s northern city of Charikar as President Ghani began addressing a campaign rally there. The blast went off at the entrance to the venue, killing at least 26 and injuring 42 attendees, preliminary reports say.

Ghani was not hurt in the blast and was brought to safety. It appears to be the first high-profile terrorist attack that has targeted an event featuring the president himself.

The Taliban has claimed credit for the blast. The group repeatedly threatened to resume attacks on Afghan forces and on their Western backers, on the back of failed peace talks with the US.

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Scheduled for September 28, this year’s presidential elections have been postponed twice over fears of high-profile attacks by Islamists. Ghani, a former World Bank executive, is making a bid to remain in power for one more term.

His most powerful competitor is former mujahedeen warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, now leader of the fundamentalist Hezb-e-Islami party, who considers the Western-backed Ghani government a major “hurdle” to peace in Afghanistan.

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